During any type of long distance walking or running it is important to take care of your feet properly. Blisters are one of the major causes of why people are unable to continue in such events.
Hot spots can occur from the continually rubbing and pressure placed through certain areas of the feet from shoes or contact from the ground. A sensation of warmth associated with a ‘hot spot’ is a sign of a blister forming and must be attended to as soon as possible.
Prevention and treatment of a hot spot
Applying a lubricant to the susceptible areas of the feet to prevent rubbing. Eg Vaseline or band-aid friction block stick.
Use of Gel pads or Band-aid products ‘blister block’ or ‘blist-o-ban’ available at most pharmacists.
Changing socks regularly! Wet skin is more susceptible to tearing.
What to do if you get a blister
Treating a blister as soon as possible reduces complications from further tissue damage or infection.
Blisters deep to an area of thickness should not be drained, as this is a painful and difficult process. These blisters quickly refill with fluid after drainage, and the process can introduce bacteria that cause infection. Also blood-filled blisters should be left intact, because of a similar concern for infection.
Any blister with murky fluid, that is draining pus, or which is associated with warm, red skin or red streaking towards the heart may be infected. The blister should be drained and have antibiotic ointment applied.
The best protection for a blister is its own roof. Small intact blisters that are not causing significant discomfort should be left intact. To assist in protecting this roof, a small adhesive bandage or pad can be applied. Applying a soft layer of bandage or paper tape before adhesive tape will prevent tearing the roof.
Why are they so painful?
The pain from a blister is due to pressure on the fluid trapped between skin layers. As the pressure builds, there is further weakening and separation of skin. When a blister opens, raw skin is exposed.
If a blister is punctured with a needle and drained, it will often refill within a few hours. If a large hole is made that allows continuous fluid drainage, there is risk for tearing off the roof and leaving a large damaged area.
Since all feet are different, there are many ways you can manage blisters and many different products on the market to help. The following advice is targeted at people completing such events, because once you start walking you will do anything to manage until you cross the finish line.
Basic Blister Treatment
Cut moleskin (or a basic blister care product) into a donut of diameter ½ inch to 1/3 inch around the blister. The blister should fit inside the hole in the donut.
Place a patch of blister pad in the donut hole directly over the blister.
Cover the moleskin donut and patch with antiseptic and tape.
Basic Blister Draining:
Cleanse both the blister skin and a safety pin with an alcohol pad
Puncture the blister with the pin at several points at the margin of the blister (generally on the outside of the foot), rather than via one large hole. This will allow natural foot pressure to continually squeeze out fluid, limiting the risk of de-roofing the blister.
Gently push out fluid with your fingers.
Blot away the expressed fluid.
Cover the drained blister with paper tape or soft bandage (protects the blister roof when any other overlying tape is removed).
Cover the paper tape an antiseptic, then with shaped adhesive tape.
Open and Torn Blister Treatment:
Using small scissors or another sharp object, carefully de-roof the blister, completely trimming off the dead skin.
Place a blister bad on raw skin.
Cover the pad with paper tape or soft bandage
Apply an antiseptic coating.
Cover with tape.
Prevention is the key! If you feel you are developing a blister you should immediately attend to it before it develops any further.
As part of your journey with Oxfam it is also important to remember to maintain hydration, energy intake and appropriate rest stops!
During your rest stops stretching to the Hip flexors, thighs, hamstrings calves and feet will help your muscles recover and prepare for the next stage!
Good luck to all participants!